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and one of its duties is to report on all pending measures so that they may be considered at the next session.
The German Constitution directs the Reichstag to appoint a standing committee "for the protection of the rights of the representative body over against the National Ministry, for the period between sessions and after the end of the legislative term.” Just what it may do, is left indefinite. Provision is also made for a standing committee on foreign affairs to act when the Reichstag is not sitting, but the functions of this one too are not set forth. Czecho-Slovakia is more explicit, with a programme going beyond that of any other republic organized on familiar lines. A committee of twenty-four, eight from the upper branch and sixteen from the lower (with a like number of alternates), between sessions “shall act on all matters of immediate urgency, even if in ordinary circumstances they should require the enactment of legislation, and shall exercise control of all government and executive powers.” Measures legislative in their nature must be recommended by the Government with the approval of the President, and lose their validity if not approved by both chambers within two months after the beginning of the following session. In Russia the “Præsidium" of the chief lawmaking body represents in the period between its sessions “the highest legislative, executive, and regulating organ of the Union.” This Præsidium, with twenty-one members, is to include the members of the Præsidiums of both branches, which appear to correspond to our Committee on Rules. The Constitution specifically empowers it to issue “decrees, regulations, and orders."
In a more important particular the legislative framework of Russia suggests the direction in which republics may yet move for relief from the pressure on their present lawmaking bodies. The rest of the world is still in a mood to think that nothing good can come out of Russia, but when time has softened somewhat the memories of the suffering and tragedy wrought by the Bolsheviks, when their follies and futilities have become history, perhaps at any rate students will find that the episode has not been wholly without useful contribution to political science. Then there may be serious consideration of the creation by the Bolsheviks of what might be called a superlegislature. The Congress of Soviets, which originally was to be convened at least twice a year and as the Constitution now stands is to assemble once a year, is a one-chamber body that seems likely to concern itself with the larger questions of government and to lay down general principles. Below this comes what is called the “Central Executive Committee.” As we use the term this is not a committee at all, but is virtually a self-contained legislature of the bi-cameral type, large and representative. To be sure, the 371 members of the lower branch are named by the Congress of Soviets, but it is to be from the republics in proportion to population, and though the members of the upper branch are to be confirmed by the Congress of Soviets, they are to be representatives of the republics. This body seems to be designed to attend to what may be termed the secondary grade of legislation, less in importance, but according to our experience far the greater in bulk.
It will be seen that this is the division of labor toward which many of our American States are tending in their use of constitutional conventions for enactment of the most important laws.
Everywhere the bulk of the minor legislation is largely administrative in its nature. When it comes to be recognized that the work now done by our legislative bodies is of two sorts which can and ought to be dealt with independently, when the line is drawn between the making of laws and the administering of public affairs, if the details of administration are not turned over to administrators after the English fashion, it may be that we also shall resort to two legislatures. One of these may be large and may sit infrequently, for considering broad questions of public policy, for agreeing on programmes, for passing on budgets. The other may be a small body sitting continuously or at regular intervals not far apart, after the fashion of a Board of Directors, with control of all matters of administrative detail. Then the larger body will have time to do its work right.
PLACE AND TIME
AMERICAN judgment has differed widely as to whether lawmaking is done better in centers of population or at a distance from the influences of big cities. In thirteen of the States the largest city is the capital, in eight others one of the larger cities. Speaking broadly, more than half the States prefer the smaller place for their capital, or at any rate do not yield to demands that the seat of government shall be moved to a larger place. However, inertia, expense, and property interests are powerful obstacles in the way of change, and it is not safe to predict what would be the common attitude were the question to be faced afresh.
There was a large element of accident in the original location of our capitals. Naturally the first colonial assemblies were held where the chief settlements began. Rhode Island, formed by a union of towns, made the Legislature peripatetic. Successive sessions of the General Assembly in the years 1789-90 were held in September, at Newport; in October, at East Greenwich; in October-November, at South Kingstown; and in January at Providence. In the following September, the session was held at Bristol. Not until 1900 were sessions confined to Providence. Connecticut, likewise an amalgamation, divided the perquisites of the capital between Hartford and New Haven until 1873. When East and West New Jersey came into one province, each brought its capital and insisted on a share in the honors - a constant source of friction between Assembly and Governor, as well as of annoyance to everybody, yet prejudice could not be overcome.
Perhaps Massachusetts was the first to weigh deliberately the relative advantages of large and small capitals. In a message to the House of Representatives, June 7, 1770, Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson recalled the discussion. “In 1747 or 1748,” he said, “when the Court House, in Boston, had been consumed by fire, the major part of the then House of Repre
IR. I. Col. Records, x, passim.
sentatives was averse to rebuilding it, and disposed to build a house for the General Court in some town in the country. Being then one of the Representatives of Boston, I used my influence, in every way I could, with propriety, in favor of rebuilding the Court House in Boston, but finally could prevail thus far, and no farther. The House, upon the question whether a grant should be made, for rebuilding the Court House, was equally divided; and I, being the Speaker of the House, gave my casting vote in favor of the town.”1 By so narrow a margin did Boston escape the loss of what she would now hold her crowning honor.
In 1754 a committee of the House was appointed to consider a proper place for a Court House at a distance from Boston, but nothing came of it. Ten years later, fire again threw lurid light on the problem, if only a side-light. By reason of smallpox in Boston, the General Court was sitting in Cambridge, the Governor and Council using the library on the upper floor of Harvard Hall, the Representatives below. On a very tempestuous night in January, the beams caught from the large fire left burning in the Library and the building was destroyed. The benevolent Thomas Hollis, who had been one of the most munificent contributors to the lost library, wrote when helping to repair the loss : “I am preparing and going on with my mite to Harvard College, and lament the loss it has suffered exceedingly; but hope a public library will no more be turned into a council room.” On this occasion there was great mourning. The Governor sent a message of condolence to the Representatives; the newspapers bewailed it as "a ruinous loss”; and the mother-country and the colonies were stirred up to repair the mischief.:
The disputes that led up to the Revolution gave the Governors chance to assert their right to assemble Legislatures where they pleased. One of the complaints made of the King in the Declaration of Independence was: "He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures." Massachusetts had more reason than any other colony to make the complaint. At this distance of time it is hard to take the
1 Mass. State Papers, 216. ? Harriet Martineau, Retrospect of Western Travel, 11, 98.
matter as gravely as it was taken then, and it now looks more like a pretext than a reason for revolution, but doubtless it was serious enough to our forefathers. That the royal Governors did not view it quite so solemnly, may be inferred from one bit of grim humor. In 1770 the General Court, sitting against its will in the chapel of Harvard College, sent an address of remonstrance to the Governor, pointing out, among other things, the inconvenience of sitting in Cambridge, whereupon the Governor replied: "If you think the benefit which the students receive by attending your debates is not equal to what they may gain in their studies, they may easily be restrained, and then your sitting in the College will be little or no inconvenience.” 1
After North Carolina framed its Constitution in 1776, there was no established seat of government. The Legislature went from town to town. Different towns were anxious for it, and this begat jealousies. It was not till 1788 that a permanent seat of government was selected, Raleigh. Vermont had a like experience. Before 1808 its Legislature had held sessions in fifteen different towns, one of which, Charlestown, was outside the present limits of the State, though then in its Eastern Union. In that year, as if partly fulfilling the threat of Ethan Allen, it gathered among the fastnesses of the mountains, and established a permanent residence at Montpelier, which town was chosen as the capital because it was near the geographical center of the State. “A large wooden structure, three stories in height and of quaint fashion, was erected for a State House. The seats of the Representatives' Hall were of unpainted white plank, which so invited the jackknives of the true-born Yankee legislators that in a quarter of a century they were literally whittled into uselessness." 2
Nearly every State might furnish some interesting tale about the location of its capital, and the story of establishing the seat of the national government on the Potomac would be a chapter by itself. Here, however, there is occasion only to call attention to the effect of locations on legislative work. William Schouler indicated it in the Massachusetts Convention of 1853. Said he: “I think the true reason why we have had so long sessions of the Legislature during the last few years, is on ac
1L. A. Frothingham, A Brief History of the Constitution and Government of Massachusetts, 16.
? R. E. Robinson, Vermont, 264.